A Good Omen
Hillsboro Sugarworks is named for the mountain on which our maple sugarbush is located. When the first settlers arrived in the early 1840s they found a mountainside blanketed with sugar maple trees. And for over 100 years, two families, the Beanes and the Sweets, sugared on the north slope of Hillsboro Mountain. Walking through the woods, you can still find old maple sap buckets and the remains of old sap tanks and evaporators, along with the homestead foundations. When researching old property deeds we also discovered that one of the early Sweet family members was named Thankful. Thankful Sweet. There could be no stronger sign, or better omen that this property would be a great sugarbush!
In the Spring of 2008, as many long days, and hours pulling spouts brought Dave to an area in the woods way up near the top, near the North side of the 'Sweet Knob' (see map) he saw something half buried in the dirt. After pulling it out and cleaning it off, he realized he had found a lovely bell. It was very old, and still had the old square nail that attached it to something. What was this bell used for and by whom? Was it for the family cow that roamed the mountain side? The spirits and reminders of lives lived on our mountain are still there to appreciate and be discovered.
In the 1950's, like many other hillside farmers, both families abandoned their farms - and for 25 years the sugarbushes sat idle. In 1979 Hillsboro Sugarworks was 'born' and the maple trees tapped once again for their sweet maple sap, as we started sugaring with 100 old buckets a leaky evaporator and an old work horse named Tony.
of Hillsboro Sugarworks
During the 1980s expansion of the sugarbush was slow but consistent. Enhancements in technology were added, our first reverse osmosis machine and a wood-chip fired evaporator. Each year a new area was selectively thinned and tubing was added to the network.
Throughout the eighties and nineties the sugarhouse was expanded and modified as needs for space and new equipment occurred. In the finest New England tradition sheds were added to sheds as the building grew to meet the new needs.
In the 1990's the entire tubing system was refined, vacuum capacity was increased and we continued to add taps, selectively thinning with a 'chop and drop' method to promote good tree health and growth, with nutrients going back into the earth. Several times we produced over a half gallon of syrup per tap, which at that time was exceedingly rare.
Full Time Commitment
In 2003 we purchased an adjoining property (what we refer to as the 'Sweet' property) (see map) with large expansion opportunities. The time was right to make the leap from a very large hobby to a full time, sustainable, year round business.
In the summer of 2004, with the help of our son Dustin, we rebuilt and significantly upgraded our sugarhouse, adding a highly efficient steam-powered evaporator. These improvements, along with the addition of a second reverse osmosis machine gave us the boiling capacity to match our additional taps. Over the next five years we tripled the size of our sugarbush.
Steam Away Added to Improve Efficiency
We strive to make the best syrup possible in the most environmentally friendly way. In 2010 we added an efficiency device called a steam away, which has reduced our fuel consumption by at least 33%. This device is adding an additional layer of sap above the boiling sap which is starting the evaporation process from the energy already being used. This is great for the environment, but we realize that it has also reduced the visual charm of watching the sap boil. We feel the trade-off is worthwhile. We're trying to do the best we can to balance efficiency, quality, and consumer education.
Sometimes it's a tough balancing act. As maple producers, we are well aware of the threat of global warming, and our contribution to it. We feel it is our responsibility to do our part to minimize our impact to the earth.
This project once again brought out the artistic talent in Dave, as his desire grew to have an appropriate sized cupola to accent the sugarhouse. As he started the project, he did not know how it would evolve. Looking for a good roofing material that would fit the curve of the roof, and looking around at what he had available he came up with just the right thing. Can you guess what the roofing is made from? Maybe you guessed old sap bucket covers? If you did, you are correct! Very pleased with his finished product, it went up to grace the top of the sugarhouse for the 2009 season. It was appreciated by all visitors and elicited great comments. Recycling at its finest!
Tapping The Trees
A good deal of credit goes to our talented
tree tappers. Starting in mid February, in drifted snow and frigid temperatures,
we drill fresh tapholes in each of our trees. Tapping 14,400 holes in
our maple trees, and snowshoeing the 60 miles of tubing, takes about two
and a half weeks, under the best of conditions. Thankfully, and most appreciatively,
our recent good crops are largely due to the careful and hard work of
our tapping crew Paul, Jason, and Pete.
Tradition of Excellence and Innovation
We strive to combine environmental conservation with the adoption of sensible innovation. Over the past two decades we've been recognized for excellence in forestry and been selected as Vermont's Outstanding Sugarmaker. We were among the first sugarmakers in the state to adopt smaller, lower impact spouts, and energy saving reverse osmosis. We always boil within hours of a good sap run, resulting in the highest quality product.
In addition, we are proud to be a part of the long tradition of excellence and pride demonstrated by Vermont maple sugarmakers. We are thoroughly committed to maintaining the quality of our maple product and our environment. All our maple syrup is actually made here, right on Hillsboro Mountain in Vermont. It has crossed no state or national borders to get here. It has not been blended with maple sap or maple syrup from other sources. SINGLE SOURCE SYRUP - GUARANTEED! When you buy maple syrup from us you can be assured that it came from our woods.
Family Operation - 100%
At Hillsboro Sugarworks we are full-time
sugarmakers, and a family run business. Our corporate
headquarters is in our basement. We appreciate every customer. We run
our operation like a business, not a hobby, and our customers benefit
from this approach. We understand that timely deliveries are just as important
as high quality products-and we make sure that you get both.
Sue Folino is in charge of our web-site and office, along with marketing and deliveries. She designed and maintains our website developing an extensive network of direct markets throughout central Vermont. As families change, and children grow up and move away we appreciate the help on occasion when they are willing and able. A new generation of future farm help is now here with the addition of grandchildren.
Dave Folino is in charge of maintaining the sugarbush, producing the maple syrup crop, and works on new marketing projects. All of the wonderful artwork on the website, our yearly coloring contest, Christmas post cards, as well as our product label and silk-screen was created by Dave, a man who wears many hats. As in any small, family run business-we have multiple duties. Even Max, our Airedale likes to pitch in and help!